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Fact check: Video asking "25 questions about the pandemic" repeats misinformation

A five-minute video listing misleading questions about the COVID-19 pandemic has been shared online by British social media users.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The clip begins with the statement: “Here are 25 questions you can ask your friends and family who still believe that we’re in the middle of a deadly pandemic” (here). Some of the questions are examined here, but many of the claims and opinions are beyond the scope of this article.

“Undertakers are quieter than normal”

The video asks: “If there really in a pandemic, then why are all the undertakers saying that business is either normal, or less than usual?” (0:20)

This is false. The National Association of Funeral Directors told Reuters that Britain’s funeral directors arranged around 90,000 more funerals in 2020 than in recent years, with 30% more funerals taking place in January and February 2021 compared to normal (here).

Reuters also spoke to British funeral directors individually. Poppy’s Funerals reported that they were 30% busier than normal in May 2020 (here) and London-based W. Uden & Sons said in February 2021 that they were arranging 15 or 16 funerals a day, compared with 10 per day in previous winters (here).

“Deaths in 2020 were normal”

Question number four asks: “If there really is a pandemic, then why are all the statistics saying that the death rate was within normal parameters last year?” (0:39)

This is untrue. Sarah Caul, Head of Mortality Analysis at the Office for National Statistics (ONS), wrote in January 2021 that: “2020 was an unprecedented year in many ways, including the number of deaths; the overall number of deaths registered in 2020 was 75,925 higher than we would expect when looking at the five-year average between 2015 and 2019.” (here).

Reuters Fact Check has debunked repeated claims that death rates were normal here , here and here .

“Why are we repeating lockdown?”

Questions number six and seven ask: “If the first lockdown worked, then why are we doing it again? If the lockdowns didn’t work, then why are we doing the same thing again?” (0:57)

This logic is highly misleading. Available evidence shows that lockdowns do reduce transmission of the coronavirus. In November 2020, Reuters contacted Dr. Elizabeth Stuart, Associate Dean for Education at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (here) and Dr. Stuart Ray, infectious disease expert with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in November 2020 (here), who both confirmed this fact.

Dr. Stuart told Reuters that, until a vaccine or treatment was rolled out, the world had to rely on “really core behavioural factors”, such as physical distancing, hands washing, wearing masks, which have been used as “effective ways” of preventing transmission of infectious diseases in the past (here).

Reuters also reported on international studies that determined lockdowns had potentially saved millions of lives (here).

“Why is the government ignoring doctors?”

The eighth question in the video asks: “Why is the government listening to their own very small panel of experts and refusing to listen to the vast majority of doctors, nurses and health experts?”

Again, this claim is incorrect. The British government has been advised by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) since January 2020, which includes a wide range of experts including Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty (here). SAGE also uses information from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, shortened to NERVTAG, which includes 21 medical experts (here).

The British Medical Association, which represents doctors in the UK, regularly acknowledges the deadly impact of the pandemic on the general population and medical staff (here).

“Hospitals are empty”

The voice in the video asks for question number nine: “Why do we see scenes of pandemonium in hospitals on TV, when in reality they’re all empty.” (1:29)

The false claim that hospitals are empty has circulated online before and repeatedly been debunked by Reuters Fact Check here , here , here and here .

The BBC News Reality Check team examined videos showing quiet hospital corridors in January 2021 and reported: “because of the way healthcare trusts have reorganised hospitals, often separating Covid patients from others, and cancelling non-urgent care to free up capacity, some parts of hospital buildings will currently look empty. That doesn’t mean hospitals aren’t busy.” (www.bbc.co.uk/news/55560714)

“Why did governments order COVID tests in 2018?”

The eleventh question says: “If the pandemic started in 2019, then how did all the governments around the world order and deliver COVID-19 PCR test kits the year before in 2018?” (1:47)

Reuters Fact Check debunked this claim in September 2020 (here).

“What about the WHO update saying COVID-19 tests are unreliable?”

One of the last questions in the video asks: “Why has the BBC and all other media outlets failed to tell you that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has published an update saying that the PCR tests are unreliable and should not be used?” (3:08)

This claim is also false and was debunked by Reuters Fact Check earlier this month (here).

VERDICT

False. This video lists a series of questions based on false statements to try and dissuade “friends and family who still believe that we’re in the middle of a deadly pandemic”. The COVID-19 pandemic is real and over two million deaths have been reported to WHO so far (covid19.who.int/).

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .

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